AppleTV vs. Vudu vs. Amazon/TiVo vs. Playstation/Netflix vs. Xbox Live vs. Comcast HD - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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What do you use, and why? Duke it out guys.


Here is a little info from courtesy of Appleinsider's AppleTV Take 2 Review to get you started. (Data relevant as of March, 2008)







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post #2 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 09:22 AM
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I use BlueRay, with unlimited rentals from Blockbuster.

If the movie isn't in Blueray, I usually try to see if its available on AppleTV in HD.

I would probably rent more from the AppleTV if 1) it tells me if the movie is available in Blueray or not because if it is not, I would rent it right away. Blockbuster's site is kinda cumbersume to find out if the movie is not available in Blueray... then by the time I get back to surfing the AppleTV I forget what it was I wanted to rent from AppleTV because it wasn't available in Blueray but available in HD on the AppleTV 2) If Apple TV also had HD TV shows I would drop my satellite TV service... or at least just get the basic satellite HD with no DVR. However it is convenient when I forget to record a TV show.
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post #3 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 09:26 AM
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For free HD content there is Over The Air broadcast channels. I use that with Series 3 Tivo DVRs. Lifetime subscriptions, multi room viewing, transfer to/from computer, etc.

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post #4 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 09:31 AM
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Thats a nice chart
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post #5 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HT Nut View Post

For free HD content there is Over The Air broadcast channels. I use that with Series 3 Tivo DVRs. Lifetime subscriptions, multi room viewing, transfer to/from computer, etc.

due to the local cable company not really wanting to support local channels (without a cable box rental + extra fee for hd), i am going back OTA.

i would rather backup ota to dvd instead of pc.

at the moment i have a dvd recorder that receives the hd and downconverts to sd for recording. i was looking for a dvd recorder that records in hd on dvd media but it doesn't seem to exist (outside of japan).
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post #6 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 10:44 AM
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Theres a few corrections that need to be made to the chart.

For example, Amazon and X360 both can use wireless (although I am guessing you are looking at standard features only). PS3 does have free movie trailers, both for theater movies and Blurays... And comcast's on demand library may be limited, but its constantly changing, so while its limited at any given time, it evolves and keeps up to date.

Otherwise, good chart. Great place to start off.
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post #7 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 11:16 AM
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Corrections: the $349 XBox is 20 GB. XBox content size is "320 movies, 160 HD".

To be honest, I would remove the disc format columns (PS3 Blu-Ray and HD DVD add-on) since they're not really relevant to the discussion, and only muddy the information provided. A comparison between the download services is what's needed.

I would add a row to the table to describe TV show offerings (SD and HD).

It would also be great to add a row describing the format (i.e. codec and bit rate).
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post #8 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zassk View Post

Corrections: the $349 XBox is 20 GB. XBox content size is "320 movies, 160 HD".

To be honest, I would remove the disc format columns (PS3 Blu-Ray and HD DVD add-on) since they're not really relevant to the discussion, and only muddy the information provided. A comparison between the download services is what's needed.

I would add a row to the table to describe TV show offerings (SD and HD).

It would also be great to add a row describing the format (i.e. codec and bit rate).

Ditto.

But what does the PC column really mean? How can you view stuff on your PC from the Comcast box? And how is the DRM onerous on PS3? If you have a Bluray/HDDVD drive you can watch all your movies on a PC. But then thats not downloadable content, nor is it a PS3/Xbox issue anymore.
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post #9 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andydumi View Post

Ditto.

But what does the PC column really mean? How can you view stuff on your PC from the Comcast box? And how is the DRM onerous on PS3? If you have a Bluray/HDDVD drive you can watch all your movies on a PC. But then thats not downloadable content, nor is it a PS3/Xbox issue anymore.

Thanks for the corrections guys. As of now this graph is directly from appleinsider.com. I would like to take responsibility for the content and keep it updated with your changes, but as of now I can't.
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post #10 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 11:52 AM
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TiVo is an oddity. You can record HD off the movie channels, store the file, and replay it at a later date if you want. This is how I have got about HD 20 movies so far.
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post #11 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 11:54 AM
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I've had a Vudu box for about 2 weeks now and have been very pleased. The closest Blockbuster is about 25 mins from my house, and I'm not a big Netflix type of guy (i.e. if I want to watch something, I don't like to wait a few days/weeks to get it). With the Vudu, I have access to a huge library of content (4000+ available to rent) without leaving my house, and I get instant start (no buffering, no wait for the download to finish...just click "rent" and the movie starts). The Vudu is also a very quiet box (unlike my XBox360, which sounds like a jet engine most of the time). I believe it has a small internal fan, but I can't hear it...even if all of my other equipment is off. Quality of the HD titles is pretty good. I'd say it's better than DVD and cable VOD, but it doesn't compete with HD DVD or BR. I have only watched one SD title, so I don't have a lot of reference points for those. The one I did watch had marco-blocking in a few spots. - I've got two weeks left to decide if I want to keep it (30 day trial) and am certain I'm going to hang onto it.

I'm afraid there are a few errors in the Vudu section of the chart. Info that should be updated is as follows...

- Content is 480p for SD and 1080p/24 for HD (yep, 1080p/24 and the Vudu will output that via HDMI).
- Vudu is currently offering certain movies for free rental (last week it was old westerns...not sure if that changes weekly or...??? - haven't had the box long enough to know). If you buy a box now, you also get Bourne Identity and Supremacy in HD for free (as in you own the copy on the Vudu box...watch it as often as you want).
- the "some in HD" works out to be 111 titles (as of last week - haven't checked this week)...I believe that's more than Apple at the moment. Why is HD "running scared" on Vudu? Not sure I understand that. fivepoint - do you know something I don't? Please, share!
- I wanted to mention the sound quality for Vudu too as I think it is probably the best you'll find on a download service at the moment. They use DD+ (256kbps for movies w/5.1 surround). The Vudu box converts the DD+ to 640kbps DD (see the Dolby whitepaper on DD+ for how this works).

If you are looking to download to own or if you want something that handles music, I think Apple is a better bet. I just wanted something for rentals, and I wanted the best audio/video quality I could get. Based on my online research, the Vudu was the best fit. Their large video library pushed me over the top, and I decided to give it a try. No regrets so far!

It would be unfair of me to not mention the negatives...

- 1080p output is 24Hz only (no 1080p60)
- can't transfer movies that you've purchased to another device (iPod, etc. not supported)
- ability to add an external HD via USB is not yet supported (promised via future sw upgrade)
- some movies available for purchase only...some available for rental only
- movies sometimes show up for rental a week or two after they are available to own on DVD

If you can live with those things, then I think you'll be pleased with the Vudu.
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post #12 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 11:59 AM
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Just wondering - what does "running scared" under the Vudu box mean? Is it that everyone else is scared of it, or that it is scared it might not last?
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post #13 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 12:27 PM
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fivepoint mentioned above that the original chart was from appleinsider, which would lead me to believe that it is biased against everything non-apple. I've read independent reviews that say the HD content from Vudu is better than Apple (I'll see if I can find the links). Both Apple and Vudu use h.264 for video (Apple uses main profile, Vudu uses high profile), so Apple has no argument to make there (see wikipedia on h.264 for differences in profiles). Vudu also has the better audio (256kbps DD+ vs Apple's 128kbps AAC). From my point of view (based on specs), appleinsider is just blowing smoke.
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post #14 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fivepoint View Post

Thanks for the corrections guys. As of now this graph is directly from appleinsider.com. I would like to take responsibility for the content and keep it updated with your changes, but as of now I can't.

Ahh... well, could you put together an updated/accurate list? Then we could do it with people's input and keep it correct and as a reference.
If not you, is someone else willing to take it on?
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post #15 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andydumi View Post

Ahh... well, could you put together an updated/accurate list? Then we could do it with people's input and keep it correct and as a reference.
If not you, is someone else willing to take it on?

Haha, I actually thought about it, offered it in a post and then quickly deleted it after I got to thinking about how much work it would be, and how many PMs I would have to go through each week!

Sorry, I am not up to the task due to time constraints... however, if someone else is, I will delete my chart and direct everyone from the first post, where they can find the updated comparison chart.
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post #16 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cachest View Post

fivepoint mentioned above that the original chart was from appleinsider, which would lead me to believe that it is biased against everything non-apple. I've read independent reviews that say the HD content from Vudu is better than Apple (I'll see if I can find the links). Both Apple and Vudu use h.264 for video (Apple uses main profile, Vudu uses high profile), so Apple has no argument to make there (see wikipedia on h.264 for differences in profiles). Vudu also has the better audio (256kbps DD+ vs Apple's 128kbps AAC). From my point of view (based on specs), appleinsider is just blowing smoke.

You could certainly be correct. Here is a (hopefully) unbiased review of video quality (including screenshots) comparing the AppleTV, Vudu, and the XBox 360. The reviewer seemed to think that they were all in the same ballpark, and it simply came down to what hardware you already owned, and which interface/system you felt most comfortable with.


"Now that you've seen all the evidence I could gather. It's a toss-up to me, though I think for content I have to lean towards Vudu and for pure video quality (and most HD content) the Xbox 360 is hard to beat. Meanwhile, Apple TV is cheapest and lives up to its name with the best access to actual TV programming—though NBC is still painfully absent. How about helping me make the call here?"
http://gizmodo.com/363600/apple-tv-v...oad-battlemodo
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post #17 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 03:22 PM
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I'm not sure if I think the Apple is too dark or the Vudu too bright in those gizmodo pics. They aren't identical frames and the pics were taken with a camera, so it's kind of hard to tell. I do think it's pretty obvious that HD Apple > SD Vudu and HD Vudu > SD Apple...not that it tells us much. - Where is Xylon when you need him!
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post #18 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 03:27 PM
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Here's a link with screenshots of the user-interfaces and a quick review on both AppleTV and Vudu.

http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/columns/...tv_vs_vudu.php
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post #19 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 06:11 PM
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What about Hulu? It is free at the moment and offers full-length shows and movies with short (15 to 30 second) commercials. The interface is clean much like the Apple TV.

http://www.hulu.com

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post #20 of 189 Old 03-20-2008, 10:24 PM
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I think Hulu certainly has some advantages. Where else can you find episodes of Airwolf?!? ...but their movie selection is really thin compared to AppleTV, Vudu, and XBox Live. The last count I saw was 85 movies from Universal and Fox. In a recent interview, Warner exec Jim Wulthrich is quoted as saying that you won't see their movies on Hulu any time soon (basically said they can't make enough money via ad supported distribution).

Even if you can get past that, the video quality is lacking (480kbps-1Mbps and it's piggy-backed on top of Adobe's Flash player). I can't even find any info on what kind of audio they have, so that's not a good sign (if they aren't talking about it, it probably isn't in 5.1 surround). It's good enough for PC viewing, but it's going to fall short if you put it on the screen in your home theater. They've got a decent library of tv episodes (easily more than what's on Vudu for example), so I can see using it to catch up on a missed tv show. I think that would be my limit though.

Do you use Hulu regularly? If so, let us know what you are watching it on (HTPC, laptop, desktop...what size screen, etc.) and what you think about it.
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post #21 of 189 Old 03-21-2008, 10:01 AM
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Xbox 360 has an incorrect resolution listed. I doubt ANYONE is encoded at 1366x768 - it's just not a video resolution. Something I see on some LCD displays for native pixel count, but that's it.

Xbox 360 is 1280 pixels wide for HD content, with height proportional to aspect ratio.

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post #22 of 189 Old 03-21-2008, 02:18 PM
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VUDU SD content is encoded at 480P24.
i have two VUDU boxes and definitely enjoy them as an option for watching HD movies. And VUDU is also the reason I've been watching more SD content recently. I was up to 95% HD for all content I watch after watching HD since 2001. Now I'm down to about 85% HD for all content watched because of the ease and convenience of the VUDU boxes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cachest View Post

I've had a Vudu box for about 2 weeks now and have been very pleased. The closest Blockbuster is about 25 mins from my house, and I'm not a big Netflix type of guy (i.e. if I want to watch something, I don't like to wait a few days/weeks to get it). With the Vudu, I have access to a huge library of content (4000+ available to rent) without leaving my house, and I get instant start (no buffering, no wait for the download to finish...just click "rent" and the movie starts). The Vudu is also a very quiet box (unlike my XBox360, which sounds like a jet engine most of the time). I believe it has a small internal fan, but I can't hear it...even if all of my other equipment is off. Quality of the HD titles is pretty good. I'd say it's better than DVD and cable VOD, but it doesn't compete with HD DVD or BR. I have only watched one SD title, so I don't have a lot of reference points for those. The one I did watch had marco-blocking in a few spots. - I've got two weeks left to decide if I want to keep it (30 day trial) and am certain I'm going to hang onto it.

I'm afraid there are a few errors in the Vudu section of the chart. Info that should be updated is as follows...

- Content is 480p for SD and 1080p/24 for HD (yep, 1080p/24 and the Vudu will output that via HDMI).
- Vudu is currently offering certain movies for free rental (last week it was old westerns...not sure if that changes weekly or...??? - haven't had the box long enough to know). If you buy a box now, you also get Bourne Identity and Supremacy in HD for free (as in you own the copy on the Vudu box...watch it as often as you want).
- the "some in HD" works out to be 111 titles (as of last week - haven't checked this week)...I believe that's more than Apple at the moment. Why is HD "running scared" on Vudu? Not sure I understand that. fivepoint - do you know something I don't? Please, share!
- I wanted to mention the sound quality for Vudu too as I think it is probably the best you'll find on a download service at the moment. They use DD+ (256kbps for movies w/5.1 surround). The Vudu box converts the DD+ to 640kbps DD (see the Dolby whitepaper on DD+ for how this works).

If you are looking to download to own or if you want something that handles music, I think Apple is a better bet. I just wanted something for rentals, and I wanted the best audio/video quality I could get. Based on my online research, the Vudu was the best fit. Their large video library pushed me over the top, and I decided to give it a try. No regrets so far!

It would be unfair of me to not mention the negatives...

- 1080p output is 24Hz only (no 1080p60)
- can't transfer movies that you've purchased to another device (iPod, etc. not supported)
- ability to add an external HD via USB is not yet supported (promised via future sw upgrade)
- some movies available for purchase only...some available for rental only
- movies sometimes show up for rental a week or two after they are available to own on DVD

If you can live with those things, then I think you'll be pleased with the Vudu.


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post #23 of 189 Old 03-24-2008, 01:49 PM
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Another correction for the XBox 360. The content resolution should be 720p(XBox Live)/1080p(HD-DVD) and the native resolution should be 1920 x 1080. Same as the PS3.

Also, wouldn't the Comcast STB and TIVO HD both have a native resolution be 1920 x 1080? Because that is the native res(1080i) of some TV networks that they broadcast/record and that's what they both would display natively on a 1080i HD CRT. I mean a native res of 1366 x 768 makes no since because that would be the native res of the LCD they are being displayed on not the TIVO/Comcast STB/XBox 360 devices themselves. BTW, that would only be 1360 x 768 anyway.

One more thing. The only devices on that list that would be doing any upscaling to 1080p would be the VUDU, PS3 and XBox 360. The other devices on that list would be getting upscaled by the display if it were 1080p.
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post #24 of 189 Old 03-27-2008, 11:28 AM
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Very Useful information. I've always debated on what was better but this is actual relevant data. Thank you.
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post #25 of 189 Old 03-27-2008, 07:14 PM
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Very Useful information. I've always debated on what was better but this is actual relevant data. Thank you.

Yeah it would be really useful if the OP would come and make some corrections.
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post #26 of 189 Old 03-27-2008, 07:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesDax View Post

Yeah it would be really useful if the OP would come and make some corrections.

I already offered to adjust the original post and direct it towards a new post with an updated graph... but I will not create the graph myself. I simply do not have the time.

Are YOU willing to undertake the task? When someone is ready to do so, just PM me and we can get it lined up.
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post #27 of 189 Old 03-28-2008, 06:42 AM
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One thing that should be mentioned -- not necessarily in the table -- is that in comparing AppleTV and Comcast On Demand, AppleTV maintains the original aspect ratio of the film, whereas Comcast, in order to appease the blackbaraphobes, does not.

Also, I frequently get server busy messages from Comcast VOD. The worst case was when I paused a movie for a phone call, VOD went back to the menu, and then I kept getting server busy messages and couldn't finish the movie. And, of course, the Comcast CSR declined to rebate the VOD charge. Grrrrr.

So when AppleTV started offering HD content it has been goodbye Comcast VOD. I've watched three titles so far and have been quite pleased. They were a tad under BD/HD-DVD quality but still looked great on a 57" Toshiba DLP. (The non-HD titles are, however, unwatchable on a large screen).
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post #28 of 189 Old 03-28-2008, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifburns View Post

One thing that should be mentioned -- not necessarily in the table -- is that in comparing AppleTV and Comcast On Demand, AppleTV maintains the original aspect ratio of the film, whereas Comcast, in order to appease the blackbaraphobes, does not.

Also, I frequently get server busy messages from Comcast VOD. The worst case was when I paused a movie for a phone call, VOD went back to the menu, and then I kept getting server busy messages and couldn't finish the movie. And, of course, the Comcast CSR declined to rebate the VOD charge. Grrrrr.

So when AppleTV started offering HD content it has been goodbye Comcast VOD. I've watched three titles so far and have been quite pleased. They were a tad under BD/HD-DVD quality but still looked great on a 57" Toshiba DLP. (The non-HD titles are, however, unwatchable on a large screen).

Well, to be fair(and I'm not a comcast fan) wether or not a movie is OAR or not is up to the network that is showing it not Comcast. Showtime for instance shows almost all of thier movies in OAR.
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post #29 of 189 Old 03-28-2008, 10:45 AM
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Nothing beats BLUE RAY. If your investing in HT and a blue ray player why waster time with this other boxes or services I see no point.
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post #30 of 189 Old 03-28-2008, 12:19 PM
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Apple TV SD movies are totally unwatchable except in the cases where you are extremely desperate to watch something. It is on par with analog TV, but with way worse colors and blocking.
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